Mississippi Power rates coming down - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mississippi Power rates coming down

(Photo source: Mississippi Power) (Photo source: Mississippi Power)

Mississippi Public Service Commissioners cast a unanimous vote Thursday in favor of an agreement to lower a previous 18 percent rate increase for Mississippi Power Company to 14 percent. 

The decision also grants customers a $22 refund.

"I've never met a rate decrease I didn't like. This brings the rate down and gives a one time credit in the difference between the rate approved today and the previous rate," said commissioner Brandon Presley.

That refund will come as a credit on power company bills. More relief could be on the way.

The Kemper facility has been operating on natural gas. The plants lignite gasification operation has not been completed.

"There will be other reductions associated with fuel costs because the cost of natural gas has come down. The rates could be lower in the coming months," said commissioner Steve Renfroe.

Rate increases were approved to help Mississippi Power defray some of the costs associated with construction of the Kemper County plant. The facility has been plagued by overruns. The cost has soared to more than $6.4 billion.

"It's a lot of money. Our customers need to understand we're not asking for one dime of recovery for that amount. It's being written off and anymore over that will continue to be written off," said Mississippi Power CEO Ed Holland.

While the focus has been on rates and refunds a big question still remains. When will the Kemper plant be up and running?

"Our current plan, and we believe it’s viable, is sometime in the middle of 2016, in the June or July time frame," Holland said.

The new rate increase is locked in until the Kemper Energy Facility is completed. At that time, the power company could go before the PSC for another rate review.

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